We will celebrate the end of our semester together this week as we meet for the final time. As discussed last week, liberate some food (something like a side dish) from your local dining hal and bring it to class. I will provide some kind of main dishes and we can eat together starting no later than 7:00.

This week we have two final pieces of business. The first is to complete our final projects by organizing them into an online “zine.” You should come to class with your laptop and your final essay completed. You should have access to ALL the images and links you will be using. We will assemble it all together in class. When we’re done, we’ll have a look, have a short discussion, and do class evaluations.

Best of luck! See you on Monday!!


This is our last “regular” week of class! We’ll use it to discuss the issue of immigration reform. This will undoubtedly present us with some opportunities to make connections between what we have read in previous weeks and the current debate regarding impending legislation.

Our first reading for the week discusses the last major instance of comprehensive immigration reform in the US. Our next piece delves into some of the more recent responses to immigration which have found political purchase in the South. “Contesting Illegalities: The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act,” by Linda Newton, and “Popular Attitudes and Public Policies: Southern Responses to Latino Immigration,” by Elaine Lacy and Mary E. Odem, are both available for download from our password-protected page.

We also have the opportunity to connect more meaningfully to the present and the proposed immigration legislation currently before the Senate. This quick summary from NBC Latino will give you a cursory overview of what that new legislation entails. If you still find that confusing, check out this visualization of all the pathways to citizenship contained within that proposed bill. Feel free to do other reading related to this current event and share those links on Google+.

We will not write an essay this week. I repeat: DO NOT write an essay this week. Instead, begin work on your final essay for the class (according to the descriptors below). As I mentioned in class, I would rather your spent your writing energy on that project for a sustained two weeks than rushing through it the week (or night!) before. So give your final essay some love!!

Instead of your essay on the readings, come to class with three meaningful questions related to the readings. Those questions should be answerable, clear, and analytical. They should foster discussion, not end it. (These questions do not need to be turned in, but they should be written out for your reference.)

As we discussed in class, our final essay for the final project should meet the follow specifications:

  • it should be approximately 2000 words in length
  • the tone should be casual, that is, not formally academic
  • it should connect people to your research process
  • it should advocate for an understanding but do so with evidence
  • it should unpack complexity, be clear and accessible
  • it should promote deep understanding rather than simplify
  • it should cite sources with in-line descriptions or hyperlinks
  • you should be mindful of repetition in phrasing for invoking sources
  • the essay should conclude with a list of “Suggested Readings”

Game of Thrones

Here’s some very talented Pomona College students covering the theme song to “Game of Thrones.” (If you look closely you will spot Hist127CH’s very own Clara Shelton on violin!)


This week we conclude our reading and discussion of the book Racial Propositions by Daniel Martinez HoSang. To help us understand some of the theory he uses, and better make sense of the history he details, please read the “Conclusion” of the book before reading the remaining chapters. This should help key you in to some of the significant arguments he makes for each of the case studies.

Read chapters 5-8 in the HoSang book. Be mindful of some basic questions as you do. What is the author’s argument in this chapter? What kind of racial arguments are employed in the propositions he discusses? What does this tell us about the struggle for racial justice? Do you see connections between these past battles and political debates in the present? What is the problem with a “colorblind” society?

This week we will be sharing our weekly essay with at least ONE other student in the class. (That means you will also be reading at least one other students’ essay in class.) I would like you to write a focused, short essay on some element of the book. You can address one of the questions above or another one you find persuasive and interesting. In any case, please write your essay in a clear and concise manner. Please cut and paste it into a new Google Drive document. Use 12-point, Times New Roman font and double-space the body of your essay. Your essay should be as close to exactly TWO PAGES as is humanly possible.

We will begin our class with a discussion about our end of the semester project. We will discuss and decide on a consistent TONE and AUDIENCE for our writing. We will then make a quick decision about how to integrate and cite sources in our final essays. After that, we should be set to go!



From a certain point of view, our class ends with a prolonged discussion of the persistence of racial inequality in the modern US. Part of that discussion is taking place in your project as you grapple with the connections between the past and present when considering a variety of topics and issues. The other part of that takes place in class, as we explore our final class readings.

In both cases, we are not just talking about the ways racial inequalities, inequities, and injustices continue into the present unabated. The present, like the past, is a simultaneous mix of good and bad, or productive and unproductive. More importantly, our human society is in constant movement to become “better” and more egalitarian, even as other forces challenge such movements.

In the end, perhaps we are left with a more complicated version of events. Our reading for the next two weeks–Daniel Martinez HoSang’s book Racial Propositions–will give us multiple ways to think about the persistence (and fluidity) of racialist projects of the past that embrace complexity.

We will read up to and including chapter 4 in Racial Propositions. Key to our discussion will be your ability to, first, grasp what it is the author is arguing. You should have a firm command of terms like “racial liberalism” and understand their significance to his argument.

This will be an great opportunity for you to prepare a written contribution you can make to our class discussion. Don’t write for me, or for yourself. This week, write for each other. Write with a critical eye toward sharing your understanding and promoting discussion with your classmates. What moves you about the book? What interests you? What is important and worthy of further explanation? What connections do you make between this material and other sources and topics?

As a class, we will make some final decisions about the structure and feel of our final project. To contribute to those decisions, all you need to do is have a strong intellectual sense of what it is you are researching.


This week we will discuss the Vietnam War. This is a complicated topic, made only more complicated by the controversial nature of the war in the 60s and 70s. Our focus will be on the young men who comprised the combat troops during the war and the processes that transformed their lives.

We have three separate readings for this week, all of which are provided to you digitally. The first is from the book Working-Class War: American Combat Soldiers and Vietnam, by Christian G. Appy. The book, published in 1993, is a critical source for anybody trying to understand the ways class and race inequities are inseparable from 20th century war recruitment strategies and mechanisms. We will read chapter 1 and chapter 9 from the book.

We will also read selections from two books which use the oral testimonies of soliders themselves. The first is from the book Vietnam Veteranos, a collection of oral histories with Chicano and Latino soliders. Organized thematically, we will read pages 15-45. The second selection is from the book Bloods, an oral history with African American veterans of the Vietnam War. Organized by individual testimony, we read pages 186-218 and 229-235.

You are free to explore any topic in your essays this week. Rather than waste any space summarizing what you have read, pick a theme or topic and develop it for 2-3 pages using the texts when necessary and appropriate. Engage with the topic via these sources and see where you end up intellectually when you are done.

Also due on Monday is part 2 of the semester project. As we discussed in class for the last two weeks, this assignment entails 1) a succinct restatement of your topic (in light of any developments on your end or based on the feedback provided to you during the break; 2) a list of sources (at least four of which should be “scholarly” books or articles); and 3) at least two copyright free images.

All of the above can be turned in using Google Drive. Open your Drive account, select “Create”, select “Document”, and name that document “LASTNAME-2”. You can insert the images into the document. (Be sure and give a link to where they are from.) Be sure and give me “Edit” privileges when you share it with

Let’s keep posting articles to our Google+ community. As we see the myriad ways race figures into our present-day dialogue we might come to some deeper understandings that help us illuminate our understanding of the past.



This week we will conclude our discussion of the book The Union of Their Dreams, by Miriam Pawel. As we discussed in class, it will be a good opportunity to follow up on some of the questions we had from our first discussion. Part of our reading will also give us a chance to think about present-day agricultural production.

We read from pages 159 through to the end of The Union of Their Dreams. You are also asked to visit the website of the organization Farmworker Justice. Founded in 1981, Farmworker Justice is the national advocacy organization for agricultural laborers. They have been “at the table” of major negotiations, including the current brokering taking place regarding comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). Read about present-day issues facing farmworkers at their issues page.

Since we are now done with the book, use your weekly essay to grapple with some of the recurring and lingering inequalities and inequities facing farm labor. Using the text as your guide, what are the lessons to be learned from the past? If that prompt does not resonate for you, think about what you have learned from this text. What does every person in this country need to know about farm labor? No matter which prompt you choose, try to use the text as much as possible as the foundation of your discussion.

As we discussed in class, the next part of our class project will be due on Monday, April 15th. This give you an extra week to find some sources and begin to use them to think critically about your topic. We will discuss this next phase briefly at the start of the period.

Cesar Chavez (1993).